Muslim traders leave communally charged Purola amid ‘Love Jihad’ allegationstext_fields
Purola: Communal tension prevailed in Purola, Uttarkashi district, allegedly triggered by an elopement, which reportedly led Muslim traders to close their shops for over a week and leave the area. Although authorities have claimed that the situation has normalized, certain Hindu outfits and locals continue to demand the expulsion of 'outsiders', specifically targeting Muslims residing in the region.
The turmoil began on May 27 when two men, one of whom was Muslim, were caught along with a minor girl. Residents, labelling it a case of "love jihad," accused the Muslim man of coercing the girl.
Although the girl was safely returned home, the two men, identified as Ubaid Khan and Jitendra Saini, were arrested and charged with kidnapping and procuration of a minor girl under relevant sections of the IPC and POCSO Act. Currently, in judicial custody, their case is under investigation.
Locals estimate that Purola, located around 160 km from the state capital, Dehradun, has only 7-8 Muslim families who are permanent residents. The rest arrive temporarily during the yatra season to engage in part-time businesses or operate small shops on rent.
Following the incident, many Muslim shopkeepers, fearing violence, decided to temporarily leave the area. Some reported receiving threats to vandalize their shops if they remained open. During a subsequent rally, a few individuals targeted and damaged hoardings and flex boards of shops owned by Muslims.
Virendra Rawat, working president of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Purola, alleged that members of the minority community engaged in illegal activities while disguised as businessmen. Local authorities, including the Purola Sub-Divisional Magistrate Devanand Sharma and Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police Arpan Yaduvanshi, denied reports of people leaving the area out of fear.
Purola Vyapar Mandal President Brij Mohan Chauhan expressed concern about the situation, highlighting that Muslim shop owners have refrained from reopening their shops after the rallies. He stressed that while demands for members of the minority community to leave persist, the Vyapar Mandal does not support such actions and advocated for a peaceful resolution.
As tensions continue to grip Purola, the district administration has formed joint teams of revenue and police officials to verify the identities of individuals from outside the area. Authorities aim to address the concerns raised by locals while ensuring the safety and harmony of the community as a whole.